[ This timeline is a work in progress ]
1866 – Belfast opens a new City Cemetery . The design includes an underground brick wall nine feet deep to separate Catholic and Protestant burial plots. [Peace Monitoring Report, 2014]
1920 March – First temporary ‘peacewall’ built in Belfast on corner of Seaforde Street and Newtownards Road. [Wheatley, 2004]
1935 – Second temporary ‘peacewall’ built in Belfast: A large fence the full length of Nelson Street is constructed in response to sectarian violence in Sailortown Area. [TreasonFelony, 2018]
1936 – Nelson Street fence taken down after 9 months, following decrease in incidents. [TreasonFelony, 2018]
1968 – F.W. Boal conducts research in the ‘Shankill-Falls Divide’, documenting examples of territoriality in the area. Outcomes are published a year later as: Boal, F.W. (1969). 'Territoriality on the Shankill-Falls Divide, Belfast'. Irish Geography, 6, (1): 30-50.
1969 August 14 – The start of the Bombay Street Burnings. 44 of 65 houses on the street are ‘burned out’. In the following 3 days of riots across Belfast, 10 people are killed, 1500 families flee their homes, 600 houses are badly damaged of which 170 are beyond repair. [Ciaran Mackel-ARD]
1969 August 15 – The British Army begin patrolling the streets of Belfast, following request from Mr. Chichester-Clark to British Government to commit Army to the streets. [Northern Ireland Information Service]
1969 August 14-15 – Falls Road residents construct informal barricades in response to house burnings.
1969 August 16 – A meeting of Cabinet Security Committee discusses “possibility of sealing-off access to the Falls from the Shankill to prevent infiltration was also to be investigated’ [PRONI HA-32-2-55]
1969 September 09 – The PM for Northern Ireland, Mr. Chichester Clark makes a TV broadcast, in which he states that 'the informal community barricades must be removed immediately'. [PRONI HA-32-3-2]
1969 September 10 – British Army engineers start construction of first Peaceline in Northern Ireland on Cupar St (now Cupar Way) between the Falls and Shankill communities. The construction is finished on the 16th. A ‘barrier, 5ft. high, consists of two lines of barbed wire strung between solid steel posts embedded in the ground. Down the middle more barbed wire is strewn in coils. Later, this construction becomes green corrugated iron sheeting 10 ft tall, with observation posts & floodlit in the evening. Sections are opened during the day for vehicles, but sealed by night. [The Times, 11 Sept. 1969] & [TreasonFelony, 2019]
1969 September 17 – Agreement reached which allowed the removal of the barricades constructed throughout the Falls Road. [Ruairi Small, unpublished MA Thesis, QUB]
1969 September 26 – At Stormont cabinet meeting, British Army bring forward suggestion that official barriers would provide means to address communal violence. [CAB/4/1634]
1970 July 3 – Second ‘peacewall’ in Belfast constructed by the British Army at the junction of Hooker St & Crumlin Rd. ‘eight feet high and … built of tubular steel scaffold poles and corrugated iron’, [Irish Times 4.07.1970]
1970 July 3-5 – Falls Rd Curfew, Belfast. [CAIN Chronology]
1970 October 6 – John Taylor appointed chair of Joint Working Party convened to consider areas of confrontation and peacelines. “In response to increased segregation and division in the city, Stormont government establishes a Joint Working Party to examine existing areas of confrontation and peace lines, and to provide recommendations on these issues toward future Government policy”.
1971 January 1 – As of January 1st, there are 17 ‘peaceline barricades’ in total itemised for the Taylor Report, all made from ‘catwire fence’ and ‘corrugated iron’ walls [JWP on Processions etc.. 1971:11 / PRONI: CAB/1634/3]
1971 February 25 – The Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) is established with Housing Executive Act. The NIHE are responsible for construction of peace walls if there are security issues relating to social housing developments. However, final decision to fund, construct or maintain peace walls remains responsibility of the NIO. [Murtagh, 2002]
1971 April 19 – Publication of Joint Working Party (Taylor) Report entitled ‘Future Policy on Areas of Confrontation’ authored by (Minister of Home Affairs) John D Taylor and including a ‘Minority Report’ by Anthony Hewins Esq. It states that 'Peace Walls had served their purpose of preventing major incidents, but had not achieved an end to violence and disorder.' It recommends to 'facilitate rather than discourage segregation through City Planning'. [JWP on Processions etc.. 1971:11 / PRONI: CAB/1634/3]
1971 August 9 – Internment Policy (Operation Demetrius) is introduced by Prime Minister Brian Faulkner. This policy would continue until December 5, 1975.
1972 – Large scale dislocation of families – 60,000 people forced to relocate [ Keane 1990 ] mostly from North, West & East Belfast. [ Murtagh 1995 ] Mixed communities simply not an option. [Smyth 1996]
1972 – Similar pattern of 1969 cycle of replacement of barricades with Army fences & walls, with resulting solidification of communities into two homogenous groups. [ Boal & Royle, 2006 ] Second wave of ‘peacewall’ building by British Army, replacing existing barriers 'to prevent localised attacks'. [British Soldier (2), 2009]
1972 July – A system of crude barriers is placed at shopping streets in Belfast city centre, marking the start of the ‘Ring of Steel’, a system that would develop into a ring of static security checkpoints, grills and fences. [Brown, 1985]
1972 March 24 – Announcement of Direct Rule from Westminster, London. Stormont Government is dissolved, due to collapse in social order. [Bew et al, 1996]
1972 March 25 – British Government take complete responsibility for control of NI through Sec. of State for NI & Northern Ireland Office (NIO). [Connelly, 1990] From this point onward, all decisions regarding ‘peacewalls’ were taken by NIO, RUC and British Army. [Connelly, 1990] No local accountability or participation [Hadfield, 1992] but allowed de-coupling from ‘local’ issues [Douglas, 1982].
1972 April – Publication of ‘Violence and Civil Disturbances in Northern Ireland in 1969; Report of Tribunal of Inquiry’ Chairman: The Hon. Mr. Justice Scarman. [1972 Scarman Report]
1972 July 21 – Bloody Friday in Belfast. 19 Bombs exploded in a single day. 9 dead. 130 injured. [CAIN Events]
1972 July 31 – Operation Motorman initiated. [Hennessey, 2007] Aim to establish military presence in all parts of NI and remove all barricades to ‘No Go’ areas in CRN & PUL communities. There is minimal resistance from local communities, suggesting apathy toward local barriers and their removal [Hamill, 1985].
1973 September 20 – 150 PUL protestors travel to Stormont to ask for the construction of a ‘peaceline’ to separate them from the adjacent CNR community in Suffolk [The Times, 21.09.1973]
1973 December 6-9 – Tri-partite conference held in Sunningdale Park in England, involving British, Irish and NI Governments. Agreement on formation of 'Council of Ireland' - a key element in negations on a political settlement. [Mc Garry and O'Leary, 1993] Leads to formation of 'Power-Sharing Executive' with range of politicians from across NI divide. [Birrell and Murie, 1980]
1974 January 1 – Northern Ireland Executive officially takes office, although powers relating to security and policing refined by the NIO. [Hillyard, 1983]
1974 May 28 – Northern Ireland Executive collapses after Unionist members of Executive resign due to inadequate response to pressure from Ulster Workers Strike. [Aughey, 2005]
1974 May 29 – Return of direct rule from Westminster, supported by NIO [McGarry and O’Leary, 1993]
1976 March 26 – ‘Ring of Steel’ completed by encircling four of the seven pre-existing segments, with every entrance either sealed off completely or manned by ‘Civilian Search Units’. [Brown, 1985]
1979 – Margaret Thatcher elected Prime Minister, with British Government and Army taking longer-term approach to conflict, reflected in more substantial materials for ‘peacewalls’. [Jarman, 2008]
1982 November 11 – Northern Ireland Assembly established. This would continue until June 23, 1986. [CAIN Events]
1983 – The Westlink motorway is completed, severing North & West Belfast communities from the economic centre of Belfast. [Cosstick, 2015]
1984 June – Government decision taken to stop pedestrian search procedures at City Centre ‘Ring of Steel’. [Brown, 1985]
1985 November 15 – Anglo-Irish Agreement signed by Thatcher & Fitzgerald at Hillsborough Castle [CAIN Events]
1993 – Mayhew Working Group to consider Peaceline issues.
1993 – The Argyle Business Centre is developed on the ‘peaceline’ on North Howard Street to re-build the economic and commercial presence in the area that had been disrupted as a result of the Troubles. [Troubles Archive]
1993 December 15 – Anglo-Irish Joint Declaration at Downing Street, signed by Reynolds and Major.
1994 – Alexandra Park ‘peacewall’ constructed.
1996 – First ‘interface’ mobile phone network set up by Roisin McGlone in West Belfast.
1996 – Belfast Interface Project (BIP) established to identify key issues facing local communities living at ‘interfaces’ and adjacent to ‘peacewalls’. [BIP]
1998 April 10 – Good Friday Agreement (also called Belfast Agreement or the Agreement) signed. [Gov.UK]
1998 April 10 – Gunnell Hill Interface approved
1998 May 22 – Good Friday Agreement Ratified in both Ireland and Northern Ireland by popular vote.
2001-2002 – Sustained violence at Short Strand / Inner East leads to a number of barriers raised in height. [Donnan & Jarman 2014]
2001 September – Ardoyne / Glenbryn Interface: Holy Cross Dispute
2002 May 11 – Short Strand / Inner East: Madrid St / Thistle Court Street Battle.
2002 – Madrid Street Gates erected, subsequently replaced by a wall. [Donnan & Jarman, 2014]
2004 – ‘A Policy Agenda for the Interface’ published by Belfast Interface Project. [BIP - O’Halloran, Shirlow, Murtagh 2004]
2005 September 26 – IRA disarmament
2007 – Formation of new devolved Government. [Donnan & Jarman 2014]
2007 May 22 – Hazelwood Integrated Primary School Interface (8m high fence) constructed.
2007 May – Conclusion of Westminster Direct Rule and devolution of powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly, but responsibility for construction, maintenance or removal of ‘peacewalls’ remains with NIO via legislation - The Justice and Security (Northern Ireland ) Act 2007, Sections 29 and 30 [NIO, 2009]
2008 – ‘Attitudes to Peacewalls’ survey commissioned by US-Ireland Alliance. [Vargo 2008]
2008 – ‘A Process for Removing Interface Barriers’ published [Macaulay 2008]
2008 – First comprehensive list of ‘peacewalls’ by Community Relations Council (CRC): 88 barriers listed.
2009 – Interface Community Partners established (parallel group to Interface Working Group).
2009 – Responsibilty for Interfaces passes from NIO to Minister of Justice. [Donnan & Jarman 2014]
2010 April 12 – Justice functions devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly via newly created NI Department of Justice.
2010 May – Responsibility for 59 Army and NIO walls devolved to NI Department of Justice.
2011 – NI Executive Programme for Government 2011-15: ‘Actively seek local agreement to reduce the number of ‘peace walls’ (DOJ)’
2011 – InterAgency Group formed – OFM-PSNI-BCC-NIHE-DRD-DSD
2011 September 16 – Alexandra Park Gate opened. [BBC News]
2012 – Belfast City Council (BCC) receive £421,313 of Peace III funding to soften/adjust/remove 14 walls in Belfast.
2012 – BIP publish ‘Belfast Interfaces: Security Barriers & Defensive use of Space’ study that identifies 99 walls, barriers and interfaces in Belfast. [BIP]
2012 – The International Fund for Ireland support eight ‘peace wall’ programmes. [IFI, 2012]
2013 May 23 – OFMDFM publishes the 'Together: Building a United Community' Strategy (T-BUC) commiting to remove all ‘peacewalls’ by 2023. This reflects the NI Executive’s commitment to improving community relations and continuing the journey towards a more united and shared society. [OFMDFM, 2013]
2013 November – Retractable Steel Mesh Curtain constructed in grounds of St. Matthews, Short Strand [BBC News]
2014 April 11 – UK Prime Minister David Cameron: ‘take down the peacewalls’ C-P.55 [Belfast Telegraph]
2014 November 25 – Removal of Newington St Traffic Barrier [BBC News]
2014 December 23 – Stormont House Agreement (SHA).
2015 September – Girdwood East Perimeter at Brucevale Park Removed (CL08 BIP #66)
2015 November 11 – Girdwood North Perimeter at Cliftonpark Avenue Removed (CL08 BIP #67)
2015 November 17 – A Fresh Start: The Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan (An agreement to consolidate the peace, secure stability, enable progress and offer hope) published. [Northern Ireland Executive]
2016 February 25 – First NIHE wall removed at Crumlin Rd. & Herbert St (CL09 BIP #70) [Belfast Telegraph]
2016 June 20 – Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition (FICT) is appointed. [FICT]
2017 January 26 – The Northern Ireland Executive is dissolved following disputes between the DUP and Sinn Féin.
2017 September – Springhill Avenue Wall (built 1989) removed, facilitated by Black Mountain Shared Space Project. (CL02 BIP #09)
2019 June 3 – Interface Barrier at Townsend St Replaced by DoJ (CL03 BIP #30)
2019 June 10 – Interface Barrier at Serpentine Rd / Navarra Place Removed (CL03 BIP #84)
2019 August 12 – NI Department of Justice Interfaces Programme - A Framework Document, Published. [Link]
2019 September 10 – 50th Anniversary of the first Peaceline in Northern Ireland. See: PEACEWALLS 50 Events.